There are situations in which you might wish or need to take leave without pay. Before you do, you should understand how that would affect your retirement and other benefits.
As a rule, granting LWOP is a matter of supervisory discretion. However, there are situations where it must be granted. For example:
* to care for certain family and/or medical needs under the Family and Medical Leave Act;
* when your employment is interrupted by a call to duty in the armed services; or
* for medical treatment if you are a disabled veteran.
And there are other situations where the granting of LWOP is encouraged. For example:
* to allow you to enroll in an educational or training course, which would be of benefit to the agency;
* to keep you on the rolls while your disability retirement application is processed; or
* when your annual and sick leave has run out and your need for LWOP is clear.
Retirement: a total of six months in any calendar year is considered to be creditable service; and that coverage continues at no cost to you.
Health benefits: coverage continues for up to 365 days, with the government continuing to pay its portion of the premiums. You can either pay your portion on a current basis or when you return to pay status.
Life insurance: continues for up to one year without any cost to you.
Time-in-grade: time spent on LWOP is considered creditable service for meeting the time-in-grade requirements for promotion.
Within-grade-increases: if you are a GS employee, a total of two weeks on LWOP is creditable for advancement to steps 2,3, and 4; four weeks to steps 5,6, and 7; and 6 weeks to steps 8, 9, and 10. If you are a wage employee, it’s one week of LWOP for advancement to step 2, three workweeks to step 3, and four weeks to steps 4 and 5.
Reduction-in-force: a total of six months on LWOP in a calendar year is considered creditable service.